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Harris looks to reach Minnesota voters

VP candidate Kamala Harris pledged to earn the trust of Minnesota voters, even as the COVID crisis will change the look of Biden-Harris campaign events here.

MINNEAPOLIS — Two weeks after accepting the Democratic vice-presidential nomination, California Sen. Kamala Harris made several virtual stops in Minnesota.

Joe Biden's running mate said the Biden-Harris campaign won't take the North Star State for granted, despite her party's 48-year presidential winning streak here.

"We need to earn the vote of every Minnesotan, and we will do that based what clearly is our plan to be relevant to Minnesota families," Sen. Harris said in Zoom interview with KARE.

She touted the campaign's focus on affordable childcare, ensuring adequate support for children in distance learning and personal protection for students and teachers returning to classrooms.

"In terms of how it relates to COVID, we talk about our willingness and ability to invoke the Defense Production Act to make sure we here in the United States manufacture what we need to be safe, so that we’re not relying on foreign governments in a time of crisis."

The killing of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police sparked a national conversation about race-based inequities in the use of deadly force by police. We asked Harris how the nation's leaders can address that issue while at the same time supporting the core mission of law enforcement

Harris, a former California Attorney General and San Francisco District Attorney, called that a false choice offered by President Trump and Republicans.

"Look at my career. We have to support law enforcement. And bad cops are bad for good cops," Harris remarked.

"We have to do what we can to reform the system so that there is equal justice under law, and that being Black or Brown does not mean having an unfair experience because of the color of your skin."

Harris said some of the best ideas for police reforms came from within the law enforcement community, including bans on choke holds and national discipline databases that would prevent problem officers from moving from town to town.

RELATED: Vice President Mike Pence campaigns in Duluth

"I want that a police officer will be there for that rape victim. I want that a police officer will be there to investigate a homicide. So, let’s not accept the false choice."

She said campaigning will continue to look different, featuring smaller gatherings and more online events due to the COVID crisis. Harris conceded that could put former Vice President Biden at a disadvantage in some ways to President Trump, who continues to hold gatherings with live audiences.

"I miss seeing people in person. I know Joe does too. I mean, we love seeing people and being with them -- selfies and hanging out," she explained.

"Joe loves crowds, but he’s willing to sacrifice that experience because he knows if he brings people together like that, they’ll get sick."

Republicans respond

The Trump Campaign and Republican National Committee chided Biden and Harris Wednesday for their lack of personal appearances in Minnesota, thus far.

"It’s been nearly 1,000 days, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are still hiding in their basement and away from the prying eyes of Minnesotans who want answers on issues like mining, agriculture, and the left-wing mobs destroying our cities," Preya Samsundar, an RNC spokesperson based in Minnesota, wrote.

"Minnesotans appreciate President Trump and Vice President Pence standing with them in-person – and will deliver the land of 10,000 states to Republicans in November."

Earlier Wednesday afternoon, Harris co-hosted an online "Kitchen Table Conversation" with fellow Democratic Sen. Tina Smith and Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. The panel also featured state lawmakers, union members and parents who talked about the challenges and dilemmas parents face striking the balance between work and helping children with distance learning.

"These are real issues that are affecting families. We have a plan making sure there's universal pre-K for three and four-year-old children. We have a plan for affordable childcare so that no working parent has to worry about whether they can afford to go to work."

In reaction to that panel discussion, the Trump Campaign sent a press release attacking Lt. Gov. Flanagan, labeling her as an "anti-mining, anti-pipeline, pro-Green New Deal Democrat."

The statement from Jake Schneider, the deputy rapid response director of the Trump Campaign, called on Minnesota DFL politicians to disavow Harris's support for the Minnesota Freedom Fund. That nonprofit collects money to bail out offenders who can't raise cash bail.

The organization has come under fire after published reports that some of those bailed out were involved in serious crimes related to the post-Floyd riots. Republicans have called out Democrats and campaign staffers who've donated to the Freedom Fund.

Supporters of the Minnesota Freedom Fund say the cash bail system falls hardest on low-income persons who often lose their jobs and housing while locked in jail awaiting court proceedings.